Trinity Blood has quickly become one of my favourite series despite a so-so start, and this volume keeps up the pace brilliantly.
The events of the last volume saw Father Abel Nightroad and
Sister Esther Blanchett in hiding within the Empire. The Order of Rosen
Kreuz has succeeded in framing them and vampire noble Ion for the murder of the
Duchess of Moldova, making their mission into the heart of the vampire world
even more dangerous. As Esther recovers from her injuries with the help of
the local girl Seth, Ion learns dire news about the Order of Rosen Kreuz's next
plan - they aim to assassinate the Empress, the leader of the vampire world.
Such an act will plunge the world into all-out war, especially as Vatican agents
Abel and Esther would be prime suspects. They have to stop the
assassination at all costs, but with the whole Empire out to find them and the
devious Rosen Kreuz seemingly one step ahead, things may not go as they want
them to. If this isn't bad enough, there is also strife in the human
world. The Pope has made a state visit to Albion for the funeral of the
country's Queen, but during a tour of the capital city he is kidnapped by
vampire terrorists. The reason for the kidnap lies in the secret behind
Albion's position as a leading power, a secret underground factory known as the
Ghetto holds a hidden vampire underclass who are being exploited by humanity.
The terrorists want emancipation and revenge, and the young Pope's kidnap could
be the final straw that ends the shaky cease-fire...
The final three episodes of the Night Lords story arc make up the bulk of this disc, and as that story has so far been the best of the series, that's no bad thing. The series really came into its own when it stepped out of the comfort zone of standard vampire versus church and tried to get under the skin of vampire society. It stepped into uncharted territory to an extent, helping you to sympathise with the vampires and understand what drove them. It broadens the series' scope and makes things that little bit less
predictable, plus with Abel & co stuck in a hostile land the drama is ramped up immeasurably. This volume continues where the last left off and the action flies thick and fast as Abel, Esther & Ion face enemies on all fronts. The machinations of the Order of Rosen Kreuz leave things on a knife edge. Our heroes have to prevent the plot to assassinate the Empress, but doing so will require them to break their cover and could just play into the Order's hands.
What this volume does well is ramp up the tension even
further than before. As well as Abel, Esther and Ion always being in
danger of being captured by Imperial forces, there is also the tension of the
assassination plot. You are on the edge of your seat waiting to see what
will happen, wondering what the Order's plan is, wondering if it will succeed,
wondering if it is just a trap to set up Abel & Esther. It's a masterclass
in drama, with plenty of unexpected plot twists and some great scenes. The
highlight is probably when Ion and Esther are trapped together, Ion is wary of
Esther after learning of her past hatred of vampires, but worst of all is being
overcome by the thirst for blood. He needs blood to survive and with
Esther the only person he can get to, it could end up with them killing each
other. Can their willpower hold out against the odds?
As well as the drama the action flies as thick and fast as ever, with face-offs galore between Rosen Kreuz agents and our heroes. Abel gets to demonstrate more of his powers and there are a few surprises from other cast members as well. You learn a lot more in this volume about the Crusniks and when the action moves from the Empire to Albion things head off in a different direction once more. Whilst the Night Lords story arc took you under the skin of vampire society, this new story starts to show the disturbing secrets of the human society.
Although in the vampire capital city humans are second class citizens, in the country of Albion vampires are slaves. This shifts the series' moral compass somewhat, and suddenly you are uncertain of where it is going to go. How will the main characters react to the secrets of their society's power? How will the vampires react when they discover how their kin are mistreated in Albion? And who is behind the Order of Rosen Kreuz? There are a lot of questions left for the final volume to answer, and you wonder how it will all be tied up in just four episodes.
Once again a volume of Trinity Blood ends when it's gotten really interesting, but once again the quality of what's on offer is stunning. The animation and story are superb, and this volume pushes the boundaries of vampire stories beyond the tried and tested genre stereotypes. It's tense and exciting, with a perfect balance of action and drama and plenty of plot twists to catch you out. The only thing I'm a little worried about is that it may have tried to do too much. There simply seems to be too much left open, too much left to tie up. It will be interesting to see if the end of the series can live up to this volume, as Trinity Blood vol 5 is absolutely awesome.
Trailers, clean opening and closing sequences and some descriptions of religious terms. Not good enough.